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Were You Arrested? Have You Been Criminally Charged?

Being charged with a criminal offence can be devastating for your career, family, personal well-being and even your freedom. The single most important decision you will make for your case and your life is contacting the right criminal defence lawyer. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, you need the best legal advice. Because your life depends on it. Our criminal defense legal team has years of experience defending criminal cases at all levels of court in British Columbia.

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What Is Considered A Criminal Offence In Canada?

Criminal offences in Canada fall into two main categories: summary conviction offences and indictable offences. Summary offences are less serious than indictable offences, which come with higher penalties. Canadian law does not have “misdemeanors” or “felonies.”

Summary Offences

So, how do summary offences work? Well, a judge hears summary conviction cases in a provincial court. A person charged with a summary conviction offence is usually not arrested, unless the accused is found committing the offence. They are often given a notice to appear in court at a certain date and time.

A person charged with a summary conviction offence does not have to appear in court. An experienced criminal defence lawyer like Rob Dhanu or an agent may appear in court on that person’s behalf, unless the judge asks the person charged to appear.

Indictable Offences

An indictable offence is more serious. And there are different procedures for indictable offences. The procedure that applies to your situation is going to depend on how serious the offence is and choices made by the prosecutor and the accused person (you).

Will a person charged with an indictable offence get arrested? The short answer is, yes. A person charged with an indictable offence will be arrested when the police have reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed an indictable offence or is about to commit an indictable offence.

A person charged with an indictable offence must show up in court. He or she may represent him or herself or be represented by an experienced criminal defence lawyer, such as Rob Dhanu (who is also a former Crown Prosecutor, so he knows how the prosecution works).

You may also hear about a hybrid offence. A hybrid offence is an offence where the prosecutor can choose, based on factors such as the seriousness of the accused’s actions and the harm caused, to proceed with the offence as either a summary conviction offence or as an indictable offence.


"The single most important decision you will make for your criminal case and your life is contacting the right criminal defence lawyer when you are facing criminal charges."

At the Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group, we have dedicated criminal defence attorneys with years of experience prosecuting and defending criminal cases. One of our founders, Criminal Defense Lawyer Rob Dhanu, even worked for the Government in the past as a Crown Prosecutor!

From summary conviction offences such as domestic assault, drug possession, theft or driving offences to more serious indictable matters such as drug trafficking, firearms offences, sexual assault and even murder – we have handled every manner of criminal cases.

If you have been criminally convicted, we are prepared to appeal your matter to the highest levels of criminal court. 

Whether you are looking to avoid a criminal record, have criminal charges reduced or even dismissed or to avoid jail time, we have a criminal defence lawyer ready to help. Real life legal solutions means taking the time to get to know you and your criminal case in order to devise the best strategy to get you there.

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defence Lawyers

A criminal defence lawyer represents those charged with crimes or offences in court. Crimes can range in severity from summary conviction to indictable matters. A criminal defence lawyer gets their client’s story, researches the facts, investigates the case and defends their client in court. This may involve fighting at trial to prove that their client is innocent or negotiating with Crown prosecutors to drop or reduce charges with no criminal record (so no criminal record results) or to otherwise get the best sentence possible.

There are a few important factors to consider in hiring a criminal defence lawyer. You should try to hire an attorney with experience in the courthouse where your case is pending. Though most laws are the same throughout all of BC, and even all of Canada, procedures vary from one courthouse to another. For example, the Crown Attorney in one territory may have a particular policy with respect to a certain offense, while the Crown in a neighboring territory may have a completely different policy. A criminal defence lawyer with experience in your city will know the ins and outs of your courthouse and have many personal relationships with local officials. Defendants should prefer attorneys who have experience with local procedures and personnel. You should also try to find an attorney who has represented defendants charged with the same or very similar offenses to your’s. Modern criminal law is so complex that many lawyers specialize in particular types of offenses. It is perfectly appropriate for you to inquire during an initial consultation about the attorney’s experience. You should never hire a lawyer who refuses to specifically discuss his or her experience or gives vague, unrevealing answers.

There are no “good” or “bad” questions to ask your lawyer. Whatever it is that concerns you, confuses you, or you’re just curious about, ask away! Our job, in addition to providing you the best possible defence, is to answer any and all of your questions.

At Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group, we understand that legal cases often arise unexpectedly and lead to unanticipated expense. This can be a significant stress piled upon the already stressful nature of your legal matter.

Real life legal solutions means offering a variety of fee structures, payment plans and competitive rates that work for you, not fixed rates or overpriced hourly fees.

A criminal defence lawyer, like any lawyer, is bound by a code of ethics and professional conduct. Unlike many other professions, attorneys cannot work for two competing parties.

Canada has many laws in place to ensure that defendants receive proper treatment in the courtroom and by their lawyer. Here at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group, we believe in not only the code of ethics we are sworn to, but the idea that all defendants deserve the utmost respect and diligence in their case.

Ideally, it would be nice to have a criminal defense lawyer from the moment you are criminally charged and arrested. While this is may not be practical, you should attempt to speak to a criminal lawyer as soon as possible after being released after your arrest or even while in detention. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can work on getting your case resolved and you back to your normal life.

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Types of Canadian Criminal Offences

Our years spent working as Federal Crown for the Department of Justice mean we have extensive expertise in cases involving drug trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, simple possession, production and import/export. We have extensive knowledge of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so we can best defend your rights from unlawful search and seizure. We have successfully challenged evidence seized pursuant to search warrants on numerous occasions. We have also successfully dealt with myriad cases involving all manner of substances ranging from the gram to multi-kilo level amounts including

  • cocaine
  • heroin
  • opiates
  • methamphetamine
  • fentanyl
  • ecstasy
  • marijuana
  • hashish
  • oxycontin
  • GHB
  • prescription drugs, precursors and more.

An experienced criminal defence lawyer like those at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group will have experience with cases similar to yours and be willing and able to use any and all tools at their disposal to fight for your rights.

Learn More About Drug Offences

Experience prosecuting drug offences means that we are also intimately acquainted with firearms and weapons offences which often accompany charges involving drugs or violence although they are also often charged on their own.  Almost any item can be regarded as a weapon if it fits the definition of a weapon as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada.  Use or possession of a weapon can be regarded as an aggravating feature in any given case.  Firearms offences are typically regarded as very serious in Canada and can result in significant sentences.  We have extensive experience dealing with firearms and weapons charges including challenging firearms experts called by Crown to prove their case.

Any charge of domestic assault can have far reaching consequences beginning with conditions removing you from your home and preventing contact with your spouse and children. There is also risk of a criminal record and separate family law proceedings resulting. We are well positioned to deal with all of the repercussions of a domestic assault charge. We begin by taking a proactive approach through utilization of our extensive network of professionals to deal with any underlying real life issues.  We then make every effort to deal with restrictive bail conditions in order to return you to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible. Our goal is to always strive for a resolution which does not result in a criminal record and we are successful in this regard in the vast majority of cases. If your priority is to return to your relationship we will work with you to accomplish that goal. As a multidisciplinary firm, we are also able to deal with any family law issues that may arise if your relationship is at an end. This allows for effective coordination between criminal and family law matters as well as significant cost savings.

There is a great range of violent or threatening type offences including simple assault, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and uttering threats.  Luckily, there are also a wide range of defences for these types of charges including self-defence, consent and identification.  Skilled cross-examination of Crown witnesses can raise issues of reliability and credibility which can lead to an acquittal of all charges.  Where the Crown has a strong case, it is also important to consider the possibility of pleading guilty to lesser charges such as simple assault rather than assault causing bodily harm or aggravated assault.  A successfully negotiated plea bargain in the right circumstances can result in far better outcomes including not ending up with a criminal record.

Bail is often the first issue to be addressed in a criminal case and it is usually the most important.  A criminal case can have very different outcomes depending on whether an accused person is in or out of custody.  We take great care in guiding you through the pitfalls of the bail process so that you are able to continue to enjoy your freedom while your criminal charges are outstanding.  Dealing with your charges on an out of custody basis makes all the difference when it comes to properly preparing for your defence and showing the court progress you have made when it comes to your life circumstances.  And if bail is denied for some reason in the first instance, we are more than prepared to immediately appeal to a higher court in order to secure your freedom.

It is extremely important to hire a criminal defence lawyer with a thorough understanding not only of the Canadian Criminal Code but also the Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”) when dealing with youth charged with a criminal offence.  Unlike the Criminal Code, the YCJA emphasizes rehabilitation as the primary goal when dealing with young persons and has a very different set of rules when it comes to bail and sentencing.  We understand the YCJA and our main goal is explore every possible opportunity for alternative measures or diversion in order to steer young persons outside of the traditional criminal justice system and to avoid any form of criminal record.  When it comes to young persons, we not only deal with the criminal charges but also explore and address the underlying life issues that may have led to charges being laid in the first place.

There are a great variety of sexual offences ranging from sexual touching, sexual interference, sexual assault and more. Beyond resulting in a serious criminal record, offences of a sexual nature carry great stigma and involve mandatory registration in a national sex offender registry as well as DNA orders. Sexual offences also attract mandatory minimum sentences which can result in significant time in custody regardless of your circumstances or the circumstances of the offence. Currently, there is also intense media scrutiny and significant pressure on Crown and the judiciary with regard to these matters. The successful defence of sexual offences requires experienced counsel with the ability to adapt their cross-examination depending on the unique circumstances of any given case. For instance, aggressive cross-examination of a complainant may be an effective formula in one case and completely backfire in another. Our experienced lawyers know which approach will best suit the particular needs of your case.

Breaching court orders includes breaching conditions of bail, probation, conditional sentence orders, weapons prohibitions, driving prohibitions and failure to appear for court. Any breach offence can have significant repercussions when it comes to the ability to obtain bail and can complicate the successful resolution of outstanding charges. We take a proactive approach by fighting for imposition of the least restrictive conditions to begin with in order to reduce the chance for any possible future breach. We also make sure you understand any court imposed conditions and will seek to vary or remove any conditions that may be difficult to abide by. Being proactive also means negotiating with Crown so that potential breach charges are not laid or are subsequently stayed whenever possible. If breach charges are ultimately laid, we will always examine whether a defence exists due to a reasonable excuse for commission of the breach.

These offences include a wide range of acts in which property is taken, possessed or damaged without permission. Offences include robbery, break and enter, theft, possession of stolen property, fraud and mischief. We have learned that it is extremely important to analyze and understand the underlying reason as to why any given person engages in property offences. Often times issues of addiction, mental health such as depression, financial hardship or other reason are the root cause of these behaviours. We have access to professionals who can deal with any underlying issues which not only greatly enhances the chances of the best possible legal result but also deals with real life underlying concerns. We are also very experienced at taking these matters to trial in cases where your Charter rights have been violated or other defences are available such as colour of right or a lack of knowledge and control.

Driving offences may be prosecuted under the Motor Vehicle Act or the Criminal Code of Canada. Offences include impaired driving, refusal to blow, dangerous driving causing bodily harm or death, driving without due care, driving while prohibited and more.

Impaired Driving/Refusal: British Columbia has some of the strictest impaired driving laws in all of Canada with the officer at roadside now acting as judge and jury over your freedom to drive. The imposition of an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (“IRP”) not only means you can automatically be prohibited from driving for 3 months, but your vehicle will be impounded for 30 days, you will have points imposed on your license and you could be required to attend the Responsible Driving Program as well as have an Ignition Interlock device installed in your car. Monetary penalties associated with IRP’s can easily approach $5,000 not to mention no longer being able to drive. Whether you are charged criminally and have to go to court or an IRP is imposed and you have to fight ICBC, we have extensive experience to help keep you on the road.

Driving While Prohibited: The crackdown on impaired driving in British Columbia has led to a greater number of people being charged with prohibited driving.  Driving while prohibited carries a mandatory minimum penalty of a $500 fine as well as a 1 year driving prohibition for a first offence and mandatory minimum jail sentences for subsequent offences. Defences for driving while prohibited are highly technical in nature and we are well acquainted with identifying any issues that could lead to your charges being dismissed. If there are no issues worth pursuing to trial, we are also frequently able to negotiate charges being stayed or a plea bargain to a lesser offence with either a reduced or no driving prohibition to keep you on the road.

Dangerous Driving: These are some of the most serious driving offences and can lead to significant penalties including lengthy jail sentences. We analyze each case very carefully and work with accident scene experts if needed, often former police officers themselves, to ensure that no stone is left unturned in representing your interests.

These are serious matters for which Crown will seek jail terms generally ranging from 3 to 8 plus years.  This range of sentence may be adjusted depending on whether the accused employed weapons, had their face masked or inflicted violence among other factors.  Home invasion is not a criminal charge per se, but refers to a set of circumstances in which an occupied residence is broken into with criminal intent.  The credibility and reliability of the complainants in these matters is often at issue as is the identity of the accused and their actual role in the alleged events.  As criminal defence lawyers, we have dealt with numerous files involving these types of circumstances and take care to devise the best possible trial strategy.  Each case is unique and requires a different approach whether that be the quickest possible trial in Provincial Court or more prolonged proceedings where we first engage in a Preliminary Inquiry to thoroughly test the Crown’s case prior to trial in Supreme Court.

Homicide is the most serious criminal offence in Canada. Charges can range from 1st degree murder to 2nd degree murder and manslaughter. These cases are typically lengthy, costly and hard fought. Individuals will usually only be charged with homicide after significant investigative effort by police and Crown. The result of such an investigation will inevitably include thousands of pages of disclosure requiring careful review as well as many hours of video, audio and other evidence. One of the first issues that will arise will be consideration to having a bail hearing to see if release can be secured pending trial. This is the first step in preparing for an investigation that can involve the use of most every tool in the police arsenal. This includes the use of undercover officers, surveillance evidence, search warrants, production orders, wiretap evidence, interrogations and the use of “Mr. Big” techniques. Needless to say, these cases require enormous energy, experience and resources – things only an expert criminal defence lawyer can provide. We have a team of lawyers, paralegals and legal assistants that will ensure no stone is left unturned in your defence as we seek dismissal of your charges or, as is often the case, a reduced charge resulting in far lesser penalty.

These are quasi-criminal offences laid under a variety of provincial or federal legislation including the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Customs Act, Motor Vehicle Act, Fisheries Act and Income Tax Act to name just a few. Although these are not criminal offences, a conviction can still lead to significant monetary penalty as well as jail time. When jail time is involved, a criminal defence lawyer can help you win your case.  Federal Prosecution experience means we have prosecuted many of these matters and now put our experience to good use in your defence.

This is a relatively new and evolving area of criminal law which requires constant vigilance in order stay abreast of recent caselaw and trends. We make it our business to read and database most every new legal decision in British Columbia and as far away as Ontario that may assist our clients in terms of the latest legal defences. Police agencies will often employ sophisticated software and computer experts to build their case. That is why we make sure to employ our own experts when required to pick apart the evidence Crown has marshalled. Social media may be a new phenomenon but the use of search warrants and production orders to seize evidence from computers and mobile devices is not. Due to our extensive experience dealing with the Charter and the law of search and seizure, this is an area that we have found ripe for challenge and the possible exclusion of evidence.

A criminal defence lawyer who cares won’t stop fighting for your case just because a judge has made their final ruling or order. We carefully analyze every decision and, if the court made mistakes resulting in an outcome you are not satisfied with, we are prepared to take your case to a higher court to set things right. We have significant appellate experience both in the Supreme Court of B.C. as well as the B.C. Court of Appeal. We know that a vibrant appellate practice is vital to ensuring you receive the best possible result.

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Advantages of

We wanted more from the law and so should you. That’s why we created a law firm with a real life approach formulated to bring you the best possible results with the least amount of stress and expense. Welcome to a powerful client-centred philosophy that turns our passion for people into advantages for you.

We understand that legal issues in one area of the law can quickly spill over into other legal arenas. You need to know if admitting civil liability could assist a criminal prosecution or if your criminal case could lead to civil, family or immigration repercussions. Real life legal solutions means having access to lawyers under one roof with experience in a wide range of legal fields. That means no running around trying to find the right lawyers to answer your questions when you are most stressed and can least afford it. Whatever your legal issue, chances are we have a lawyer just down the hall who can provide the right advice which saves you time, money and stress.

Before joining DD Law Group, our lawyers were employed by big government, big corporations and big downtown law firms.  We have dealt with everything from large scale civil litigation and complicated divorce settlements to sophisticated drug conspiracies and high stakes immigration board hearings.  Real life legal solutions means having the experience to identify the correct legal issues, to develop a legal strategy on the front end and to see that strategy through.  Actually having a game plan from the outset that you understand means less stress, greater efficiency and reduced cost.  And if you are not completely satisfied with a result, we have the experience to appeal your case to the highest levels of court.

Lawyers traditionally focus on legal issues rather than the individuals behind them. We firmly believe that your story is a powerful tool that can define the narrative of a case and help you achieve the best possible legal result. We not only want to know your story, we want to help you shape where it leads. Real life legal solutions means working hard to identify and deal with the reasons your life intersected with the law in the first place. Where appropriate, we will work to address these real life issues through our trusted network of counsellors, doctors and other professionals. This allows us to build a powerful narrative to advocate on your behalf. At the same time, it allows for the possibility to effect powerful and positive change in your real life.

Legal cases are not just won by lawyers. They often require doctors, counsellors, health care workers, private detectives and other professionals with specialized knowledge. We rely upon a trusted network of professionals who not only have the ability to help you in your real life but who can also turn what appears to be a losing case into a winning one. Real life legal solutions means that you won’t be on your own when it comes to securing appropriate and quality professional help both for you and your legal matter.

We pride ourselves on a legal team that treat one another like an extended family rather than mere work colleagues. We want you to share in the unique culture we have developed. Real life legal solutions means dealing with a firm whose lines of communication are always open when a question or issue arises. We always endeavour to ensure you are not left in the dark or feeling alone when urgent matters require our attention. This atmosphere of openness is why the relationships we forge with our clients often continue long after a file is closed.

We understand that legal cases often arise unexpectedly and lead to unanticipated expense. This can be a significant stress piled upon the already stressful nature of your legal matter. Real life legal solutions means offering a variety of fee structures, payment plans and competitive rates that work for you.